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Should a Cesar Chavez Site be Added to the National Park System?


Reuther Hall, Forty Acres, is one of the sites being considered in the study. NPS photo.

Should a site "significant to the life of Cesar Chavez and the farm labor movement in the western United States" be added to the National Park System? The NPS is now seeking your comments, and public meetings on the possibility are being held in six locations in coming days.

The meetings and request for written comments are part of a Congressionally-directed "special resource study" of potential sites associated with the farm labor leader and movement in the West.

In case your history is a bit rusty, a summary of the study notes, "Cesar Chavez is recognized as the most important U.S. Latino leader of the twentieth century. During the 1960s, Chavez led a movement of thousands of farmworker families and their supporters as they created the nation's first permanent agricultural labor union."

Special resource studies don't always result in new sites being added to the NPS, and a variety of options are being considered. They include:

•   ongoing management by the current public or private owners;

•   technical assistance to property owners who wish to recognize the work of Cesar Chavez and the farmworker movement on land they own (for example, assistance in preservation techniques, public information, education, or other services);

•   listing of historic sites on the National Register of Historic Places;

•   educational or community service programs;

•   NPS management of one or more sites, for example as a national historical park;

•   NPS coordination of a historic trail or tour route.

What locations might be included in such a site?

The NPS has developed a preliminary list of significant sites, "including the Forty Acres and Filipino Community Hall properties in Delano, CA; Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz in Keene, CA; the Santa Rita Center in Phoenix, AZ; and the 1966 march route from Delano to Sacramento.  Additional significant sites can be found throughout California and Arizona in major cities and agricultural communities."

Between Monday, May 9 and Tuesday, May 24, public meetings are being held in six locations in California and Arizona. You'll find a list of meeting sites, dates and times at this link.

If you'd like to weigh in on the discussion, you don't have to attend one of these meetings; you'll find contact information for comments by U. S. Mail or e-mail at this site, or you can submit comments on-line.

You'll find some basic information to help you make an informed comment in a newsletter about the project. The deadline for all comments for this phase of the study is May 27, 2011.

You'll have a second chance to weigh in on this idea later this year. A draft study report is expected to be published for public review and comment in the fall of 2011, and a final report will then be transmitted to Congress by the end this year.

The purpose of the current study is to evaluate the areas in question "to determine whether they are eligible to be designated as a unit of the national park system, and to consider a range of options for preservation and public visitation." The debate over the financial feasibility of a possible new NPS site will come later during Congressional hearings, if the study recommends that such a site be established.

That said, it will be interesting to see if the current fiscal woes at all levels of government play into the discussion for possible NPS involvement in this, and other, potential new park areas. Is this an idea whose time has come, irrespective of budget constraints? Time will tell.


No they should not have anything more to do with Cesar Chavez,  I lived in bakersfield and he was not the Saint everyone is making him out to be.  He used to chase kids off with a gun, and he was mean and had a potty mouth.  he was not a likable nice man and he does not deserve anything else.  he has enough already.  For God's sake this is our National Parks.

Congress declared in the General Authorities Act of 1970 "that the National Park System, which began with the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872, has since grown to include superlative natural, historic, and recreation areas in every region ... and that it is the purpose of this Act to include all such areas in the System...."

 Don't like it. Take it up with Congress. Write letters and encourage your friends to write if they believe the same.

In the end it'll be a futile effort. The NPS mission is about far more than about natural features. I mean - they created several units based around water recreation where a dam was built.

The mission of the National Park Service - "conserve the scenery and the wildlife and the natural and historic objects therein....for the enjoyment of future generations" - too, bad, Lone Hiker, but history and human accomplishments are part and parcel of the NP system.  You are welcome to your personal opinion, but national policy and Congressional actions do not agree with you.

I would ask, if we are going to honor Cesar Chavez, fine, but what about some of the other figures prominent in American Labor - John L Lewis, Walter Reuther?

Sure this is political in nature. So are the several birthplaces/homes of former US Presidents or other political figures. I don't disagree with the argument that the NPS doesn't have adequate funding, but the inclusion of many NPS sites has been political in nature.

The National Park Service has a mandate to protect both natural and historic resources. Perhaps some don't agree with all the stated goals. I thought the arrowhead design of the NPS logo was supposed to represent historical preservation. I haven't done a full analysis, but I would think the majority of NPS units (and even a few full "National Parks" like Mesa Verde) were included primarily for their historical value. There's a long list of National Historic Sites, National Battlefields, and National Historic Parks in the NPS inventory. A quick glance at a list of National Monuments under NPS jurisdiction would seem to indicate at least half hold their primary importance for their human history.

A "park" in and of itself is a very human thing. Nature generally doesn't respect manmade boundaries. if you don't feel a human enterprise should recognize human history, then eventually the human race will become a footnote lost in the grand scheme of things.

no,besides that,we have enough on the table with the parks we have now,where is the funding and we cannot afford it..and most peop[le will not mention,the people that he orgainized for we mostly illegals...

When I think of the NPS I don't think of Cesar Chavez. This political not nature. We have national parks that need attention or have budget constraints due to congress defunding the NPS. Why create another site, for a political issue. If they (the state) has not set up an monument to him, why should the NPS do so. Is there any site for the Labor struggles that were taking place in the 20's and 30's. I don't think there is. They did more for the working man than Cesar Chavez, imo. Heck, we can't even get the Native American view of things happening during the settling of the the west as the article on Ft. Laramie in Wy states.

Yes, let's make our Parks a testiment to the intelectual, not! Just skip the most grounded needs of our lives and live in those lofty places where we demean our predecessors (and ourselves) to assume the position of "creator." Could we add a good bit of humbling to the equation?

i find that nature has done a more competent job at shaping the parks than man even could dream of, and when the influence of mankind does take hold, as in the damming of the Colorado River reshaping the topography and ecology of the Grand Canyon, then the entire system begins to rapidly deteriorate.  And due to those influences, along with the short-sightedness and generally low IQ of man when it involves our planet, the best that can be said is that "I remember when", which is a pathetic and sorry statement for the supposed "master of world".

And yes, I understand the Tetons.  But rather than take the time to scrutinize what little might be proper, which is a tremendous waste of time, it's far more palatable to blow the whole thing up and get it right the second time.  That would be the time for scrutinizing probable changes.  It would also expedite the process and I hate wasting time.  But as this is all hypothetical anyway, let's not get our collective shorts in a knot.  We're too egotistical a species to admit that our person vanity is improperly bestowed on objects of creation (or do you prefer design???)

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